Benefits in treating whiplash injuries lead insurer to extend pilot

Norwich Union's million pound study into the effect of rehabilitation on whiplash claims is to be extended to other injuries.

Six months into the original study, the insurer has reported "tangible" benefits on the treatment of whiplash claims using rehabilitiaton techniques.

The aim of the pilot was to determine the most effective treatments for whiplash and the extent to which rehabilitation had a financial impact on claims costs.

Dominic Clayden, head of technical claims at NU, said the study had shown that rehabilitation increased the speed with which claims were settled, with no net increase in costs.

"It was cost neutral and reduced the lifecycle of the claims, therefore reducing our expenses," said Clayden.

But the study also revealed that there was no reduction in the quantum of damages awarded to the claimant.

Norwich Union declined to give details of the overall cost savings.

Clayden said: "It is too early to tell what effect it will have on total expenses."

The project is expected to run for a further year. Clayden said it would be extended to look at other treatments.

"It [the pilot] has helped us understand objectively which is the right treatment [for whiplash injuries]. We will roll the pilot out to look at other treatments and look at evidence-based medicine across the board."

Other insurers, such as Allianz Cornhill and AXA have been assessing the cost-benefits of rehabilitation on whiplash victims.

Last year, Allianz Cornhill revealed that its study had found that physiotherapy was failing to improve claims costs as the treatment was not being taken into account in the medical reports that were used to determine settlements.